April 7 - 13, 2008
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Acts of generosity
Strange and wondrous things happened when the first Christians gathered to praise their Lord and Savior. This Sunday’s lectionary reading from Acts of the Apostles says they actually abandoned the whole idea of personal ownership.
It sounds totally kooky to us because we live in a culture that glorifies personal ownership as our highest value. The Acts passage holds valuable insights for us both as Christian stewards and leaders of congregations.
Notice that the outpouring of extreme generosity did not occur out of the blue. They practiced devotion to the apostles’ teaching. They were in close fellowship. They were devoted to prayers and the breaking of bread. Extreme generosity developed in this super-spiritual environment.
There’s something that happens to people when they get the Christian message. When they really get the Gospel. It changes everything. It changes our relationship to one another, and it changes our attachment to money.
A friend who is a future pastor exemplifies the point. At her previous job in the financial services sector it was all about more money, more prestige, fancier cars and bigger houses. But more and more never became enough. Thinking about it, she shakes her head and says, “That is so not who I am now.”
Today, just enough is enough for her. Stripping her worldly possessions down to the basics, she gave away all but four of her good bath towels: “Why do I need more than four towels?” she explains
Devotion to the teachings of faith, dedication to fellowship and prayer and the breaking of the bread leads to a realignment of values. Meeting our needs becomes the standard for sufficiency, and this makes generosity possible.
So. Does your church focus on devotion to the teachings of the apostles, fellowship and prayer and the breaking of the bread? If so, blessings will surely follow, as they did for the Acts community: And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for local, nonprofit use. Just include this note: “Copyright © 2008, The Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.”
New This Week
Two of Me
“For God's people, the opposite of simplicity is not complexity. It's duplicity,” declares the subhead of his challenging essay. It offers insight and practical advice to any Christian who is juggling multiple demands in faith, work and family (and who isn’t?). Click here for “Two of Me,” from Leadership Journal.
John Wesley: The Use of Money
Here’s a brilliant sermon from the founder of Methodism – and one of Christianity’s brightest souls. Wesley expounds on his oft-quoted (and misunderstood) maxim that when it comes to wealth, a Christian should make all he or she can, and give all he or she can. Good reading! Click here for “The Use of Money” from the Global Ministries Board of the United Methodist Church.
Tithing – Is That Still Around?
In this challenging essay, stewardship specialist and author Eugene Grimm finds inspiration about tithing from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. He finds they have application to Christian giving and tithing. Click here for “Tithing – Is That Still Around? From Grimm’s website, www.stewardshipconnection.com.